On Saturday the 21st four of us (myself, Susan from JEARS, Courtney my Incident Commander, and Karen, another Kinship volunteer) drove to Kawamata to set a trap at Yukimama's house (we aren't sure if she is the mama of Yuki or she is a mama and her name is Yuki) for a sick cat that Sega san had been feeding and was worried about. After we laid down the trap we decided to drive around scouting for animals, but weren't having any luck. We did find a back way past the police blockade that had been set up in preparation for the sealing off of Yamakiya. The residents were told about a month ago that they had two weeks to evacuate, then a month, and now they are being asked to leave but not forced. Despite this, they've still set up police blocks on major roadways. When we found the back way we didn't actually know that we were on the wrong side of the block until we saw it in the distance, from the wrong side!!! I was driving so I had to pull some getaway driver stunts by reversing as quickly as possible so that the police wouldn't see us (though now I'm fairly certain they wouldn't care even if they had seen us).
So scouting for animals was a bust, but as we were driving around we got a call from Fran. Fran is an American living in Japan and he has been acting as sort of a lone wolf farm animal rescuer. He has been finding ways around police blockades to access the farms where animals have been left inside and giving them food and water. He wanted to show us around the areas of Namie (adjacent to the Yamakiya district of Kawamata) because he needed help supporting some of the animals he had found. The access point he had found around the police blocks on the main roads was down further south so we headed that way since we weren't really accomplishing much scouting.
On the way to the access point we saw a Japanese couple stopped in the road feeding two dogs. We stopped to see if they needed assistance and learned that the woman was an animal communicator. The couple had seen these two dogs running around for several weeks in the area and beyond and were concerned that they had been abandoned. They had been coming to feed the dogs for a while, but didn't have the ability to take the dogs home. We reassured them that we could take them and transport them to shelter and we caught the dogs on slip leads and led them to the car. One was a male akita mix and the other was a small brindle mutt female.
We continued driving down the road a ways and caught up with the Japanese couple again. They had stopped for a white Akita mix dog, but he ran away and it seemed like he lived up the road so we just let him be.
Once we met up with Fran he drove us around 3 different road blocks and our first stop was at a junkyard where approximately 5 dogs were running around clearly suffering from mange. Since it seemed like the dogs were owned by the owner of the junkyard and it seemed like the place was still inhabited we couldn't take them, but we promised Fran we would come back later in the week to check in again and maybe try to secretly treat them. We left behind a flyer and moved on.
Our next stop was at what Fran believed was a small pig pen, but what we instantly recognized as wild boars in a pen. My impression of Fran is that he is a well-intentioned vegan activist who maybe lets his passion for rescuing animals override reasonable self-preservation instincts. Two of the boars had apparently escaped (though most everyone agrees that Fran probably let them out because he asked us if we had wire cutters) and were running around. By now it was already dark and the boars were horrifying! They weren't full grown, but a boar can easily take down and injure a person. As we were pondering what to do about the situation a woman ran up to us and explained that she was taking care of the boars for her neighbor. Apparently the neighbor had raised these from piglets (boarlets?) and had to evacuate and asked her to feed them. The two escaped boars were still dangerous to humans much like any wild animal that people raise from infancy but that they weren't able to fend off predators. She had been trying to trap them and return them to the pen. We told her that if she needed help trapping them we could help (I don't know how we thought we could possibly help, but she seemed kind of frantic and we felt bad about the situation). We decided to book it out of there as the two boars starting hanging around us and we went to our last stop of the night.
Fran led us to a chicken farm that would be considered extremely small scale in America. There were about 75-100 chickens in a double coop. It looks kind of like how broiler chickens are housed in the States with an enclosed barn with an open floor where the chickens live except there was a lower density of chickens than would be found in an American factory farm and the chickens were given places to perch. Fran had brought a bag of feed and a huge jug of water and had been doing so for a few weeks, but it was clearly not enough. When we laid out the feed and water the chickens continued to perch and couldn't even move. We think they were delirious from dehydration. I began lifting the chickens off their perches and dunking their beaks into the water. They immediately perked up and began circling the water buckets. After we had dunked all 75-100 chickens and they were starting to rehydrate we fed them the feed and I did my best to examine them (my chicken knowledge is limited to say the least). Their breastbones were very prominent and they had a lot of feather loss with some of the chickens having big bald patches on their rears which were red and inflamed. (As a sidenote, if anyone has chicken knowledge, please email me!) We decided that JEARS would come and feed/water the chickens midweek with two bags of feed and more water if Fran would continue doing the weekend shift. We hope that this will be enough to sustain them better because they looked to be in absolutely horrendous shape. There was only one deceased chicken, but the others looked close to death.
We got back to Club Lohas late at night feeling down about the situation for animals in the evacuated zones, but determined to do the best that we could to help them survive.